*This is a partnered post. All opinions are my own*
A lucky escape from some rare post-summer triple digit heat at our place of residence San Jose, to the always beautiful and cooler Carmel-by-the-Sea. The drive was a breeze and the temperature dropped around 30F having crossed Oak Hills to a very comfortable 70F. Since we arrived slightly before Hofsas 3pm check in time, we hit Carmel Beach which unlike surrounding foggy areas bathed in sunlight. It being a Thursday made parking easy and with a gorgeous day for the beach, the crowd was pleasant and an instant hit with our 4 year old, who hooked up with an immediate ‘best’ friend for some kids water and sand fun.
This allowed us parents to dip our feet in the white sands and just relax for a bit while taking in the scenery, do some people watching and talk about the many options for adventure and food around the area.
Due to this delightful experience, we slightly overshot the check in but were still in time for a refreshing jump in the pool followed by a cleansing sauna visit and shower. This time we got a spacious top floor room with kitchenette and fireplace but best of all a terrace with great ocean views. We couldn’t resist but to pop open the welcoming bottle of fine white wine and enjoy a small cheese plate appetizer while gazing at the coast line. The ocean air and activities so far made us crave Indian food which we found at the nearby shopping village the ‘Barnyard’ of which the plaza has many good things to offer. Our luck would have it that Aabha Indian Cuisine recently opened and welcomed us with a nice ambiance, good service and great Bay Area grade Indian food.
After dinner and in time for the setting sun, we headed to the beach to see sundown. Driving northbound on the Scenic Rd alongside of Carmel Beach we soon found the best place with path benches just for such moment. From one of those benches we spotted several lit fire pits on the sand below and decided to go for a beach walk to check it out.
We met a great group of people by one of those fire pits of which one member broke out his acoustic guitar to make it truly memorable. At the onset of darkness we headed for Ocean Ave, since our daughter decided it was time for some ice cream, so we treated ourselves to Italian gelato. To finish the day, while our princess was dozing off in the king sized bed, my hubby and I had a final nightcap. Waking up to complimentary hot beverage, croissants, fruit and yogurt to get started, we wisely choose to have a chat in the lobby with Hofsas House hotel’s owner Carrie, who as usual gave us invaluable information about the goings on in and around Carmel with great advice for places to visit and where to dine.
For a nice walk we choose Mission Trail Park at walking distance from the hotel. It offered some great panoramic views of the area and the abandoned mansion added a nice touch, sparking our girl’s imagination. Since it’s also a popular dog walking destination for locals, we met and chatted with several of which the last one gave us the ‘golden’ nugget of information which would propel this day into an unforgettable life experience.
Apparently due to some large school of anchovy in the bay, a sizable number of humpback whales were in town and best spotted from Carmel Point near the River State Beach. According to this local, the whales had not been so close to shore for over 40 years, which made us rush over to not miss this unique opportunity. Some photographers with large lenses and tripods hinted us to pull over, park and take our chances near Ocean View Ave looking out over Carmel Bay. One of them seemed to be an expert on sea life and was able to give us the context while the first whale spouts and tales started to appear in front of us. We couldn’t believe our luck and took it all in, ‘seizing this moment’. My daughter was in awe on her father’s shoulders and spontaneously started humming the theme song of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ in between shouts of ‘A Whale!’. This was a first for all of us and we are truly grateful.
After over an hour of whale watching we build up a healthy appetite and decided to grab a picnic basket at our favorite 5th Avenue Deli around the corner of Hofsas, allowing us to grab our beach gear from our room. Prepared we returned to the same spot where we watched the whales, since it provided access to the northern part of River State Beach where we set up. Still seeing the occasional whale spout and tale, we had to just dive in to be in the same waters with these majestic creatures.
The temperature of the Pacific jolted our bodies in an awakened state of refreshment, while the sunrays brought us back to comfort. The dives into the cold water were slightly addictive, hence we submerged many times after our maiden dive. With the anchovy also came flocks of pelicans, who regularly and gracefully flew close over our heads in formation during our stay.
After our beach picnic we headed back to the hotel for another jump in the pool. Refreshed we drove to Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf where we saw the red sun setting behind a hill, before strolling Wharf 1 ending up in ‘Abalonetti Bar and Grill‘ for an amazing seafood dinner. Their specialty Calamari and Barbecued Squid were among the best we ever had and therefore this place is easily a highly recommended fish restaurant. Since it was turning into one of the area’s warmer evenings. we choose to return to Carmel-by-the-Sea to stroll down Ocean Ave. We once again hit the beach but now in darkness, which with the moonlight brought the excitement for our child and the romance for us. A healthy hike up to the hotel, we indulged ourselves to yet another great bottle of wine and a nice conversation on the deck. Before noon checkout the next day and after breakfast, a final splash in the pool followed by a visit to the local Starbucks to gauge the local vibe while enjoying coffee.
Another jewel on the crown of this trip was our second visit to Point Lobos, where last time we went for the trail leading to the Whaling Station which at that time treated us to mother seals in labor. This time around we had to see China Cove and Beach, which in hindsight was the best decision for us that day, since it was absolutely magical. The loop we choose gave us so many viewpoints which will forever stay with us. In-between it also allowed us to dip our feet into sand and water on a hidden gem of a beach. We full heartedly agree that this is a ‘Must See’ when in the area.
On our way back we stopped at our favorite coffee shop at Carmel Plaza for some Ramen, Rice Plate, Sandwiches and freshly made lemonade before returning to 100F at home. This was a hard to beat visit to our favorite West Coast place Carmel-by-the-Sea, but we will surely try on our next visits. And if not a day trip, the Hofsas House Hotel currently ranks #1 on our recommended list for an overnight stay.
Link : http://www.hofsashouse.com/
To review our first impression of the Hofsas House Hotel, please also read my blog ‘HOFSAS HOUSE HOTEL | VITAMIN F FOR FAMILY IN CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA‘.
Note: We were hosted by the Hofsas House Hotel.